(Sean Lara / Lariat Staff)
Consistently being the best team on the floor match after match is usually a good thing. Unfortunately for the Irvine Valley College men’s volleyball team, the success of caught up to them.
The Lasers came out with their chests out, but Moorpark College got a quick jump on the Lasers and held on to win Thursday’s (April 22) CCCAA men’s volleyball State semifinal in five sets, 30-22, 30-24, 28-30, 31-33, 15-13.
Pacific Coast Athletic Conference No.1 and champion IVC finished the season at 16-3 overall. Western State Conference No. 2 Moorpark improved to 14-4 and will play the winner of the Long Beach-Orange Coast semifinal in Saturday’s (April 24) State Final.
After IVC led 10-7 midway through the first set, Moorpark got an early jump on the Lasers exploding in the second half of the set to win 33-22. The Raiders rode the momentum into the second set eventually got to three different 10-point leads.
“We came out too confident,” IVC outside hitter Alex Reis said. “We didn’t give enough respect to the team on the other side.”
IVC finally got together, and down 29-19, the Lasers fought off set point five times. Moorpark closed the set at 30-24, but IVC looked to have shaken off the initial jitters with their last run.
“We had some nerves at the beginning, too,” Reis said. “We eventually got through those.”
IVC took that late surge into a dogfight of a third set. Both teams traded lengthy scoring runs and managed to tie the game at 3, 11, 15, 16, 19, 21, and 22. The Lasers pushed forward to a 27-22 lead and staved off a Raider rally for an emotional 30-28 win.
Charged by a noticeably IVC-friendly crowd of 250, the Lasers continued on the comeback trail with an early 14-6 lead in the fourth set. IVC maintained a healthy lead for most of the set, but the Raiders still smelt that they were on the verge of a championship berth.
Moorpark came back to tie the game at 29 on an ace and took a lead 30-29 lead on one of their team total 19 blocks. The set would again be tied at 30 and 31, but Moorpark committed two straight errors to give the Lasers the set and get the match to a fifth, tiebreaking set.
Neither team would give the other any ground, as the two fought and clawed to a tie at 11 all.
Moorpark was able to pull out to a 13-11 lead and trade points to 14-12.
Caleb Brophy put down one of his 17 kills to fight off match point once, but on the returning serve, Caleb’s brother, Corey Brophy, hit the serve into the net. Moorpark won the set 15-13 and the match 3-2.
Reis led the Lasers with 24 kills and added 12 digs. Garret Dvoracek amassed an impressive 63 assists, and Nick Castello continued to be the team’s defensive leader with 17 digs.
Despite some impressive individual stats, IVC finished hitting only .187 as a team.
The season didn’t end with their ultimate goal of a possible fifth state title and third in four years, but there was plenty to be proud of.
Coach Ki Yi had a successful first season as head coach of the Lasers, after many years as an assistant, and the team did clinch its fourth PCAC title in the last five years.
“It was a great season,” Reis said. “Obviously it’s tough the way it ended, but we have no regrets.”